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The Mass Media

Dropkick Murphys Bassist Donates $10K to Support Veteran Courts and Music Therapy

Bassist of Dropkick Murphys donates $10,000 to William Joiner Center in support of Veteran outreach programs. 

Bassist of Dropkick Murphys donates $10,000 to William Joiner Center in support of Veteran outreach programs. 

Founding Dropkick Murphys bassist and vocalist Ken Casey donated $10,000 to the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences this past month. The money was given in support of the center’s multiple outreach programs, one of which utilizes the therapeutic potential of music. 

Casey is a singer, bass player, primary songwriter, and the single remaining member of the original Dropkick Murphys lineup. 

The rocker made the $10,000 donation through the band’s charity, the Claddagh Fund, of which he is the founder. Claddagh attempts to tap into the band’s fan base to raise money for nonprofits that serve vulnerable populations like disadvantaged city youth, alcoholics, and veterans.  

“[Claddagh is] very interested in the veteran treatment courts, and in the music therapy program for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress and other problems,” says William Joiner Institute director Thomas Kane.

The William Joiner Institute helps veterans and victims of war via outreach programs and strives to bring consequences of war into public discussion with advocacy and education. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair, between 11-20 percent of veterans who were deployed in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD during a given year. Many veterans face mental and emotional health challenges, or struggle with substance abuse. 

There are close to 700 veterans at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Almost half of them have seen combat.

Some veterans use music for cathartic release, community, and creative expression. The Joiner Institute recently launched its music therapy program, inspired by a similar one at the Chelsea Soldier Home. The instructor is Rebecca Vaudreuil, a Berklee College graduate with a degree in music therapy.  

“[Rebecca] can teach you songwriting and how to be creative with [music].”

“You don’t have to [already be a musician]. It’s [about] appreciating music, listening to music. It’s about participating. Eight people can play percussion instruments made especially for music therapy.”

Traditional rock band instruments like guitar and bass are available. Kane hopes that veteran musicians who are interested in jamming outside of the program will be connected through it. 

Part of a broader consortium, the William Joiner Institute also designs and evaluates Massachusetts veterans’ treatment courts, which provide a judicial process that is more understanding of service-related mental and emotional illness and substance abuse of veteran offenders.  

As another form of outreach, the Joiner Institute has a writing workshop during the summer, where veterans learn how to express themselves through memoir, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. 

The William Joiner Institute gets its name from UMass Boston’s first director of Veterans Affairs, who died in 1981 from cancer associated with exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.